Cultural Heritage in Times of World War I: The Case of the Austro-Hungarian Relief Map of Montenegro (1916-1918)

Kulturno nasledje u vreme Prvog Svetskog Rata: Slučaj austro-ugarske reljefne karte Crne Gore (1916-1918)

Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) of the Republic of Austria via the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (OeAD) (Project No. ME 07/2019)

Detail of the Relief Map of Montenegro in the Courtyard of the Museum Biljarda (Cetinje) (

Pavilion of the Relief Map in the Courtyard of the Museum Biljarda (Cetinje) (
In cooperation with the University of Donja Gorica (Faculty for Culture and Tourism, Podgorica, Montenegro) the Institute for the Study of Ancient Culture (IKAnt) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Director Priv.-Doz. MMag. Dr. A. Pülz, w.M.) the National Museum of Montenegro (Narodni muzej Crne Gore, Cetinje, Montenegro)

Project Leader:

Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr. Mihailo Popović (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Medieval Research, Division of Byzantine Research, Vienna)

Scholary Co-Workers:

Mag. Veronika Polloczek, MA
Jelena Nikić, BA
Ing.Mag. Viktor Jansa
Moises Hernandez Cordero, MSc


1 January 2019-31 December 2020


The year of 2018 marks 100 years from the end of one of the most disastrous wars in human history. When the armistice between the Central Powers and the Allied Powers (Entente) was concluded in November 1918, which ended the First World War, millions of soldiers as well as civilians had met their death, landscapes and infrastructure throughout the whole of Europe was devastated, Empires had fallen apart and cultural monuments had been erased to the ground. This project does not focus on the analysis of the armed conflict itself, but will instead shed light on a very special aspect of international and intercultural cooperation in times of war. Today’s Republic of Montenegro (and here the National Museum of Montenegro / Narodni muzej Crne Gore in Cetinje) is preserving a fascinating example of a European cultural monument, which is the result of an Austro-Hungarian and Montenegrin cooperation from 1916 until 1918. In March 1916 the Austro-Hungarian army established its military command in the former Montenegrin capital of Cetinje and here in the palace of the Montenegrin kings called Biljarda. In the same year the Austro-Hungarian General Staff ordered a 3D relief map of entire Montenegro to be made at a scale of 1 : 10,000 in the courtyard of the Biljarda in Cetinje. This relief map with 256 square metres, which was finished in 1917, displays Montenegro itself as well as territories which belong to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Albania and Serbia. The relief map was made of concrete on bedrock in accordance with Austro-Hungarian topographic maps of South-East Europe.
Although this relief map is a remarkable cultural monument of its time, which was even mentioned as a sight in the Austro-Hungarian newspapers of 1917, and also nowadays, its exact history of production remains obscure. The relief map of Montenegro was declared a monument of culture in 1948 and is representing one of the most important local tourist sights in Cetinje and in overall Montenegro today. That is why scholarly research on the relief map is desperately needed. This project (No. ME 07/2019) between the Long-Term Project Tabula Imperii Byzantini (TIB) at the Institute for Medieval Research, Division of Byzantine Research (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna) and the Faculty for Culture and Tourism of the University of Donja Gorica (Podgorica) is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) of the Republic of Austria via the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (OeAD) and envisages to research archival data on the Austro-Hungarian cartographers and the Montenegrin artists working on the aforesaid relief map, to collect relevant secondary literature, to capture pictures of the relief map with a drone in order to calculate a high resolution digital terrain model and to prepare a joint scholarly article on the project’s results. All of these aspects will be used for the outreach to academia and the interested public in order to emphasise this vivid example of Cultural Heritage in times of war.

Die digitale Tabula Imperii Byzantini (Dig-TIB) als Beitrag zum Weltkulturerbe [Projekt des Jubiläumsfonds der Österreichischen Nationalbank Nr. 17771]

Links: Die Zerstörung der Kirche Sveti Nikola im Dorf Gradešnica im Ersten Weltkrieg (; abgerufen 27. Juni 2016)
Rechts: Das restaurierte Fresko des Jüngsten Gerichts in der Kirche Sveti Nikola im Dorf Gradešnica (M. Popović; TIB 16; 2016)


Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr. Mihailo Popović (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Abteilung Byzanzforschung, Wien)

Wissenschaftliche bzw. technische MitarbeiterInnen:

Mag. Veronika Polloczek, MA
Alexander Watzinger, IT Experte


01.03.2018 bis 29.02.2020


Die verheerende Auswirkung von Kriegen auf das Weltkulturerbe wurde nach 1945 umfassend erörtert. Wissenschaftliche Projekte an der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften haben eine lange Tradition darin, einen Beitrag in der Erforschung des Kulturerbes zu leisten. Unter ihnen ist das Projekt Tabula Imperii Byzantini (TIB) zu nennen, das einen historischen Atlas des Byzantinischen Reiches unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Balkanhalbinsel und Kleinasiens erarbeitet.
Auf Bereisungen wurden seit 1966 Denkmäler und deren (damaliger) aktueller Zustand mittels Dias dokumentiert. Diese einzigartige Sammlung von byzantinischen Denkmälern (52.000 Dias) ist ein reichhaltiges Kulturgut und ein Angelpunkt zukünftiger Forschungsarbeit. Das Ziel des Projektes besteht darin, drei Fallstudien mit ihren Denkmälern [nämlich "Kilikien und Isaurien" (TIB 5); "Ostthrakien (Europe)" (TIB 12); "Makedonien, nördlicher Teil" (TIB 16)] zu behandeln, um sie sorgfältig durch das Prisma des Kulturerbes (vorher – nachher Zustand) zu betrachten. Diese Fallstudien wurden wegen der komplexen politisch-militärischen Lage im Nahen Osten mit den Auswirkungen auf die Denkmäler in situ (TIB 5) gewählt und weil sie Gebiete umfassen, deren Infrastrukturen sich rasch mit nachhaltigen Folgen für die Landschaften der Vergangenheit und für die jeweiligen Denkmäler (TIB 12 und TIB 16) entwickeln.
Die Gesamtzahl der zu scannenden Dias beträgt 6.300 (TIB 5: 5.000, TIB 12: 800, TIB 16: 500). Durch die drei Fallstudien werden ein strukturierter und effizienter Workflow sowie eine Best Practice auf diesem Gebiet der Historischen Geographie und der Digitalen Geisteswissenschaften geschaffen.

Byzantino-Serbian Border Zones in Transition: Migration and Elite Change in pre-Ottoman Macedonia (1282–1355) [FWF Austrian Science Fund Project P 30384-G28]

Project Leader:

Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr. Mihailo Popović (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Medieval Research, Division of Byzantine Research, Vienna)

Scholary Co-Workers:

Vratislav Zervan, MA PhD
Bernhard Koschicek, BSc BA


1 October 2017-30 September 2021
Funded by:


The European continent as a whole and the European Union in particular are facing a period of increasing dynamics of internal migration as well as external immigration at the moment. Migration in all of its various aspects has always been a part of the history of the European continent. In medieval societies the question of migration is closely connected with the definition as well as the representation of medieval borders. Maps in historical atlases are designed to provide clear-cut lines of political formations and empires, which does not reflect the reality of civilizations neither in Antiquity, nor in the Middle Ages, nor in Early Modern Times. The dynamics of borders simultaneously shapes the dynamics of settlement patterns as well as of transportation networks.
The respective stand-alone project focuses on the borders of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire in medieval South-East Europe, namely in pre-Ottoman (i.e. Byzantine) Macedonia. Far-reaching political changes occurred in the Southern Balkan Peninsula from the end of the 13th until the middle of the 14th century, when the Serbian medieval kingdom expanded to the South under the king Stefan Uroš II Milutin at the expense of the Byzantine Empire, which lasted until the death of tsar Stefan Uroš IV Dušan (1355). This again had a severe impact on the border zones and cross-border societies between both realms in pre-Ottoman (i.e. Byzantine) Macedonia in the same period, especially in five selected target areas (the Strumica Valley, Lesnovo, Skopje, Ohrid, Prilep).
Although substantial publications exist on the population of as well as on the migration in Byzantine Macedonia, there is still an urgent need for this kind of research based on written sources and toponyms. Two interrelated research questions will be addressed in two distinct work packages: "Rivalling Political Concepts – Byzantium and the Medieval Serbian Oecumene” and "Cross-Border Societies and Elite Change in Byzantine Macedonia”.
The initial point form the medieval written sources, i.e. Serbian and Byzantine charters as main corpus, as well as other selected written sources from the medieval Serbian kingdom. The sources will be analysed from the viewpoint of the aforesaid research questions and strongly based on the methods deriving from Historical Geography. Special attention will be given to the analysis of formulations with regard to the Serbian expansion in the area of research, the acquisition of new territories and their administrative incorporation on the macro-level and to the localisation of conquered settlements with related settlement typologies as well as on the change of local elites on a micro-level. Moreover, tools from Digital Humanities in mapping and visualisation will be applied in order to communicate the achieved results to the interested public.

Prespa-Devol Region in the Middle Age, I Part

Project Leaders:

Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr. Mihailo Popović (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Medieval Research, Division of Byzantine Research, Vienna)
Prof. Dr. Toni Filiposki (Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje, Faculty of Philosophy, Institute for History, Skopje)


1 October 2010-30 September 2012